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Rex on Jets owner Woody Johnson: 'He had to fire me'

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Rex Ryan might have been fired by the New York Jets, but he holds no ill-will for the franchise that gave him his first head-coaching job.

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The Bills coach told NFL Media's Judy Battista on Monday that he holds Jets owner Woody Johnson in high regard despite the sour ending to Ryan's roller-coaster tenure in Gotham.

"I had a million positive things from that," Ryan said in comments that will air tonight at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Total Access. "Woody Johnson -- to me -- will always be a friend of mine. He's a guy that I respect. The man gave me a job when no one else [would].

"He's almost like a big brother and he was outstanding ... but he had no choice, he had to fire me. He had to blow it up to start again. He couldn't justify bringing me back again."

It's a magnanimous perspective for Ryan, who has every right to be frustrated by how his time in New York ended. Former Jets general manager John Idzik did little to augment the vital back end Ryan's defense last season, a major reason for the team's subsequent 4-12 collapse.

Two months after Ryan's dismissal, the Jets invested over $125 million in the secondary. The spending spree was highlighted by the re-acquisition of Darrelle Revis, an all-time Ryan favorite.

That has to sting, though Ryan's "start again" sentiment also makes sense. As a partnership, the Jets and Ryan had stagnated after six years, the last four of which did not include a playoff appearance. The time was right for a break, and both sides now seem content.

If only all divorces could be this pleasant.

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